Sungrow Solar inverter review


Solar4Ever haven't had too much to do with Sungrow inverters over the years.
If someone specifically asked for a Sungrow, then we were always happy to install their choice, but there was never anything particularly interesting about the Sungrow range that would make us recommend them.

I think though, that situation has recently changed, and a major part of why I am now much happier to recommend Sungrow is down to them producing an excellent new high voltage battery.

If you are looking for just a standard inverter, no battery capability, then Sungrow have models like the SG5.0RS and SG5.0RT that will do the job well, but they will cost you a few hundred dollars more than other inverters with the same features and warranty.

However, if you are looking for a battery capable inverter, a hybrid, then the single phase Sungrow SH5.0RS and the three phase SH5RT (5kW) and 10RT (10kW) inverters are very interesting.

Firstly they connect to Sungrow's new high voltage SBR battery
The single phase hybrid battery stack is from 3 to 6 batteries high, each battery being 3.2kWh of storage, so that's from 9.6kWh to 19.2kWh.
The three phase hybrids battery stack is from 3 to 8 batteries high, so 9.6kWh to 25.6kWh.
If that's not enough, the 10kW three phase inverter (only) allows you to parallel up to 3 more battery stacks giving a bit over 100kWh of storage !!

It's a battery that looks good, is well-priced, and most of all, is made by Sungrow, because having the inverter and battery manufacturer being one and the same is the best way to go.

These new Sungrow hybrids have backup built-in.
No need for an extra $1400 or more for a backup box as required by Huawei, SolarEdge, Tesla, Fronius, Growatt and pretty much everyone else, as all the contactors, relays, breakers, timers etc needed to provide backup are all in-built in these Sungrow models, and when the grid goes down they switch over to backup fast...in about 30ms.

Both single and three phase hybrids come with the consumption meter (smart meter) in the box. It still has to be installed in the switchboard of course which costs about $200 for any smart meter, but it's nice to get the meter itself included.

For single phase, the backup is 5kW on a single phase of course, but on three phase inverters the backup is evenly spit across the three phases, so with a 5kW inverter that means 1.66kW per phase. Not ideal for everyone as it may not be enough to power a single phase pump or whatever you really want to keep operating when the grid goes down, and perhaps Huawei's solution of 3.3kW all directed to a single phase might be a better way to go for a 5kW inverter, but when you move up to Sungrow's 10kW inverter, then the backup is 3.3kW per phase and that should suit everyone.

Other things I like....

The single phase hybrid, the SH5.0RS, has an ultra low startup voltage of just 50Vdc, which means it will start pulling down panel power a bit earlier in the morning than others and I like the 16A input on both MPPTS too. As modern panels get ever larger, their current is going up to the point that it won't be too long before the normal 11-13A max we see on most inverters will produce 'clipping' of a bit of power when solar conditions are good.

The 5kW single phase hybrid allows up to 12kW of panels (240% oversizing), BUT... in reality, with the inverter having a 600V input limit, 10kW of panels (200%) is the realistic maximum.
The three hybrids, SH5.0RT and SH10RT don't have any particularly noteworthy features apart from the battery connectivity and built-in back-up.

Price wise, at first look the $1600 Huawei 5kW single phase hybrid looks massively cheaper than the 5kW Sungrow hybrid at $2310.

However, the backup box for Huawei costs about $1,400 whereas it is built-in to Sungrow.

The Sungrow battery becomes progressively cheaper compared to Huawei the larger the battery becomes.

Huawei has a $1300 BMS and goes up in 5kWh modules to 15kWh, and then a new BMS and up to 3 batteries can be added.
Sungrow's design is just one BMS and then 3-8 x 3.2kWh batteries under it.

That means that a 15kWh Huawei battery is about $1,100 more expensive than a 16kWh Sungrow battery and a 25kWh Sungrow battery is $3,000 less than a 25kWh Huawei.

I should point out though that there are extra components inside the Huawei battery that in many ways explain the extra cost...
...an optimiser that allows each 5kWh battery to operate in parallel and a law unto itself, and a self-deploying bag that smothers all the cells to extinguish a fire.
I've used Huawei in the battery price comparison because that's a really good battery, but if I compared Sungrow's battery on price to popular brand, BYD, then a 16.56 BYD HVM battery stack is $4,000 more expensive than the 16kWh Sungrow and the same can be said if it's an LG or Tesla battery too.

I have had reason to call Sungrow Australian based support several times recently, not to resolve problems, but to get information and documentation about these new hybrid inverters and battery and I've found them to be not only helpful, but always available in working hours.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around Sungrow's warranty. It's ten years parts and labour for both battery and hybrid inverters, but the allocation of the warranty to the retailer/installer instead of the end user surprised me. I'm sure its fine but I'm going to delve deeper.

So, in summary...
There is no doubt that since Sungrow released their new battery, and their new single and three phase hybrids, I've gone from "Why?" about Sungrow to "Why not?"

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This review was written by Andrew MacKeith, Solar4Ever service manager since 2011.